One Door Opens…

WWD Digital Daily - - News -

Them, one of Condé Nast’s new­est ed­i­to­rial projects, has gained a new ed­i­tor, while Pitch­fork, one of its last ac­qui­si­tions, is los­ing its founder.

Whem­b­ley Sewell has been named ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of the on­line plat­form, which caters to a young, queer au­di­ence. Sewell re­places Phillip Pi­cardi, the found­ing ed­i­tor of Them and for­mer ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of Teen Vogue who left those roles last year to take up the ed­i­tor in chief po­si­tion at a prob­lem­laden Out mag­a­zine.

Sewell is an in­ter­nal hire, hav­ing worked as a chan­nel man­ager at Teen Vogue for the last year, where she largely led con­tent and emerg­ing plat­form strat­egy, along with au­di­ence de­vel­op­ment. In her new po­si­tion, she will over­see all of Them’s ed­i­to­rial con­tent and brand ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Them has grown tremen­dously since we launched the plat­form in 2017, and Whem­b­ley’s dis­tinct voice and pas­sion­ate take on is­sues af­fect­ing the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity make her a nat­u­ral fit to lead the brand for­ward,” Anna Win­tour, Condé’s artis­tic di­rec­tor and long­time Vogue ed­i­tor, wrote in a state­ment. “Her pos­i­tive en­ergy and warmth will be in­stru­men­tal in grow­ing Them’s au­di­ence while cham­pi­oning the di­verse voices that make the plat­form so ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

While the plat­form is still small, Condé said Them’s so­cial me­dia growth has been sig­nif­i­cant, ris­ing 364 per­cent year-over-year, with av­er­age monthly unique views of 739,000 for the six months ended De­cem­ber. It also seems that the site’s over­head is low, as it uses a num­ber of free­lancers for con­tent and has a small staff oth­er­wise, so main­tain­ing the plat­form and a con­nec­tion to a young, niche au­di­ence gives an­other op­por­tu­nity for mar­ket­ing and data col­lec­tion as Condé con­tin­ues to re­struc­ture its busi­ness.

Pam Drucker Mann, Condé’s chief rev­enue and mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer, said in the next year

Them will fo­cus on video, live events and branded con­tent in or­der to grow.

“Our part­ners are al­ways look­ing to reach Mil­len­ni­als in in­no­va­tive ways, and Them is per­fectly po­si­tioned to de­liver authen­tic sto­ry­telling that res­onates with an en­gaged and in­flu­en­tial au­di­ence,” Drucker Mann added.

As for Sewell, who — since grad­u­at­ing col­lege in 2015 — worked at Re­fin­ery 29 in pro­gram­ming and Hearst in so­cial me­dia, she’s “ex­cited” to be join­ing Them.

“There are so many un­tapped points of view that aren’t rep­re­sented in me­dia and Them’s mis­sion to give a plat­form to th­ese voices is more im­por­tant than ever.”’

Mean­while Pitch­fork, which Condé ac­quired in 2015 (its most re­cent ac­qui­si­tion as the com­pany has been in sell­ing mode re­cently), is los­ing its founder Ryan Schreiber, who started the mu­sic site in 1996. Un­til re­cently, Schreiber has served as the site’s long­time ed­i­tor in chief, but Puja Pa­tel took up that po­si­tion in Septem­ber. He was ex­pected to re­main as an ad­viser for­mally as founder, but has in­stead left the brand al­to­gether.

“Although this de­ci­sion was not an easy one, the time feels right, and I’m ex­cited to open a new chap­ter in my life and ex­plore fresh chal­lenges,” Schreiber wrote in a state­ment.

De­spite the on­go­ing mar­ket and fi­nan­cial chal­lenges Condé is fac­ing, or per­haps be­cause of them, Schreiber added that he is “be­yond con­fi­dent in [Pitch­fork’s] fu­ture and know I am leav­ing it in the right hands.” — KALI HAYS

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